Years ago, when home computers were not so common and e-mail wasn't happening (okay, so we lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, and I was out of the loop) I found any attempt at computer use to be guaranteed frustration. I considered giving up the whole idea, like deciding not to learn skateboarding. A strange flight of imagination winged through my brain: a grandchild passing through my room with a playmate, saying, "That's my grandmother. She doesn't know how to use a computer."
My children were in high school. Where did that scene come from?
So I took inventory of my abilities and traits and determined to learn how to use a computer. As if this were a one-time endeavor. Ha! Like the day my husband and son bought our first computer and I felt the pinch of the $1,100 purchase. But I "knew" that since we had bitten the bullet and made the investment, it would be good for a lifetime. That was a Commodore 64, as in 64 KB hard drive.
Fast forward to the present: I just took the dive into e-publishing. I had a novel with pristine grammar and spelling, gripping plot and characters. My agent had done nothing with it (if you don't count misspelling my name and garbling the proposal). I released him as gently as possible and talked to my darlin' daughter, e-publishing genius for a certain ABA publisher. She gave me the courage and just enough instruction to be dangerous.
Today, that book, "Love's Second Verse", is e-pubbed on Amazon for Kindle, on Smashwords for every other format of e-publication, and now in the final throes of real book publication through Amazon's Print on Demand (POD) branch, CreateSpace.
The learning curve was, at times, steep. In order to maximize the benefit of those tense hours, I hereby volunteer free information to others who stand on the brink. Let me take your hand. It's going to be all right.
FIRST STEP: Do whatever it takes to be sure that your manuscript is well-written, spelled correctly, and with excellent grammar. Not that your characters always conjugate verbs perfectly, but the narrative is as perfect as you, your critique group, and/or a professional can make it. I'm going to assume hereafter that your manuscript is ready for the world to read.
SECOND STEP: Go to the http://www.smashwords.com/ site and download its free formatting guide by Mark Coker. You may have no intention of publishing with Smashwords (there are pros and cons) but they have the best possible guide to preparing your manuscript. If you have a Kindle, download it free to your Kindle. If you don't, you can read it online, print what you need most (it's 72 pages), or download a free "Kindle for PC" or "Kindle for Mac" program. The web address for this is in the post below concerning downloading my book.
Then go to Smashwords and get the Smashwords Style Guide at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/52 .
What? You say your manuscript is perfectly formatted? Go get the guide. I'm just sayin'....
That's enough for a Sunday afternoon. We're open for discussion. Please.